Texas wildfires creep closer to Dallas-Fort Worth area

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2011 3:55 PM
Texas wildfires creep closer to Dallas-Fort Worth area

By Laurie Fox

ARLINGTON, Tex (Reuters) - Wildfires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Texas crept closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Tuesday, razing some upscale homes near a lake and threatening hundreds more homes.

The fires started in sparsely populated west Texas and have moved east, helped by bone dry conditions and winds whipping up the flames.

Just west of the major city of Fort Worth, the towns of Strawn, Bunger and several communities around Possum Kingdom Lake have been evacuated and Graham, the county seat of Young County, is now threatened, according to Texas Forest Service officials.

The wildfires in that area alone have covered almost 150,000 acres so far, officials said.

Those fires threaten more than 600 homes and have destroyed dozens of residences, officials said. The wildfires pushed into the area on Monday, razing upscale homes along Possum Kingdom Lake.

The fires also closed the Possum Kingdom Fish Hatchery, located just below the lake's reservoir dam, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The 103-acre facility near Graford is where fingerlings are produced for stocking Texas waters.

Possum Kingdom State Park was evacuated last Friday ahead of wildfires that burned 90 percent of the 1,500-acre park on the south shore of Possum Kingdom Lake and slightly damaged two buildings and two of three sewage treatment system liners. No one was injured, parks department officials said.

U.S. Forest Service firefighters, joined by 14 Texas State Park firefighters, continued today to monitor the park for flames within the thick stands of juniper trees and to help fight fires near the fish hatchery and nearby communities.

Two other state parks that have been threatened by the wildfires in north and west Texas in past days -- San Angelo State Park and Lake Arrowhead State Park -- remain open.

Davis Mountains State Park, which suffered wildfire damage last week, remains closed as does historic Indian Lodge that is located inside the park. A base camp for hundreds of firefighters has been set up inside the state park.

(Editing By Greg McCune)